William Missouri Downs

(Plays)

 

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All of these plays are copyrighted and cannot be produced without permission of the playwright or his publishers. Downs@me.com

 

 

 

THE ART OF CRUELTY

(New)

 (Coming Soon)

 

This comic-drama is set against the bankruptcy of the Motor City. The Smith family doesn’t agree on much, but when their son Johnny comes home for the first time in four years, they reluctantly reconvene to celebrate the father (a failed painter) winning the Yoko Ono Lifetime Achievement Award for Non-Objective Art. In fact, tonight, Sean (the son of John Lennon and Yoke Ono) is to come to their house and give the father the award personally. But when a Picasso goes missing from the nearby Detroit Institute for the Arts, the family is suspected and Johnny’s homecoming takes a dramatic turn. Soon it’s discovered that the missing Picasso and the father’s prestigious award could both be part of a cruel hoax that forces Johnny and his family to question their failures and their need for each other; it also leads them to question the purpose of art in this modern world where most of what we see is copyrighted, unoriginal or fake.

 

 

 

 

WOMEN PLAYING HAMLET

(New)

Winner of a 2015 Rolling Premiere from the National New Play Network

 

(Full length – Comedy-Drama – 4 to 20 women)

Women Playing Hamlet is a comedy about the tragedy of modern life. Four women play twenty roles (including all the male parts) in this comedy about  Jessica, an actress from Minnesota who has been cast to play Hamlet in New York. After accidently interrupting a production of Hamlet starring Patrick Stewart Jessica thinks Mr. Stewart is stalking her; she also faces an up hill battle through a maze of self-important humanities professors, Freudian psychiatrists and a Minnesota mother only to discover the she doesn’t understand Hamlet, or herself. The search for identity is the theme as Jessica takes on her emotional baggage and an existential overload, as well as her self-doubt and distain for Danish fondue. There is no need for the audience to have seen or even understand Hamlet in order to follow Jessica’s comic search to find her unique self in this fast moving pageant full of bad advice and Starlings with diarrhea (you’ll have to read the play to make sense of that last comment).

 

 

MAD Gravity

(Full length - Comedy) 

Winner of the 2013 – The Reva Shiner Comedy Award at the Bloomington Playwrights Project

Finalist at The Eugene O’Neill

 

A comedy about what happens when a way-to-close comet interrupts a dinner party.  In an attempt to add increase the insignificance of their lives, Archie and Eudora have built a theatre in their living room. You’ve heard of reality television; they’ve created reality theatre.  But their performance goes absurdly erry when an astronomical ice ball the size of Manhattan threatens to plunge the earth, the dinner party, and their audience into total darkness.

 

 

 

THE EXIT INTERVIEW

Published By Samuel French

Winner of a 2012/13 Rolling Premiere from the National New Play Network

(Full length – Comedy-Drama)

National New Play Network Rolling Opening - A dark comedy about the meaning of life, school shootings, and why god hates amputees. The script uses Brechtian alienation and has great potential for multimedia staging. “The laughs keep coming — even as audience members might think with a twinge, "Ouch, that might be me." Some will no doubt be offended by one non-politically correct moment or another. But with luck, all will be forced to think.” - Orlando Sentinel

 

 

 

MR. PERFECT

(New)

 (Full length - Romantic Comedy)

(NEW)

Opening in 2015 at the Salt Lake City Acting Company

A comedy answers the three most important questions in life: Does god exist? What is your purpose? And what should you do when you’re charged with plagiarism?  The story revolves around a chance meeting at a Barnes and Noble between an actor who records books on tape and a makeup artist who loves to listen. Soon they set out to understand Mother Teresa, professional rodeo announcers, near death experiences, pigeons and their effect on jet engines, and how books on tape can fix our lives in twelve easy steps. 

 

 

 

 

KOSHER LUTHERANS

Published By Samuel French

(Full length - Comedy)

A about an infertile Jewish couple. One day their dreams are answered - they find a young pregnant girl from Iowa who is willing to let them adopt her out-of-wedlock baby. The only problem is the girl doesn’t know they’re Jewish. All she knows about Jews is what her farmer father told her, “They control Hollywood and killed Jesus.”

 

 

 

FORGIVING JOHN LENNON

(Full length – A Serious Comedy)

Forgiving John Lennon is a comedy/drama about two progressive professors who set out to make their college more Islam-friendly by inviting an Islamic poet from Somalia to speak on campus; in one of their many clumsy attempts to bridge cultures, they apologize for the Crusades. The Detroit Free Press called it, “surprisingly funny” - “A very insightful script that will likely have tongues wagging on all sides of the political spectrum.”  - Michigan Encore Magazine - 1st place at the SteppingStone Theatre, New York  -  2nd place Virtual Theatre Project’s playwriting contest at Wake Forest University – “Surprisingly Funny” - The Detroit Free Press

 

 

 

COCKEYED

 Published By Samuel French

(Full length - Romantic Comedy)

A comedy about Descartes’ philosophical insight “I think therefore I am.” It’s the story of an average philosophy major who is in love with the unattainable woman of his dreams. The only problem is that she has a glass eye and looks right through him.  Soon it occurs to him that she's not being narcissistic but in fact can't see him. He reasons that the only logical thing to do is to move in with her and cohabitate  – despite the fact that she’s unaware of his existence. It might be called a Woody Allen type comedy. 1st Place - GreenHouse New Play Festival – HotCity Theatre St. Louis.

 

 

 

 

THE POLISH BOOK OF KARMA- NEW!

(Full length - Comedy)

A comedy about a daughter, educated at godless-liberal Harvard, who comes home to visit her working-class, God-fearing, Polish family on the same weekend the Pope arrives in Chicago. This Last Night of Ballyhoo-ish comedy is new and has never been produced.

 

 

 

SEAGULLS IN A CHERRY TREE

 (Full length - A Comedy in the Chekhovian Style)

Two Hollywood screenwriters are hired by Disney to adapt Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard into a new movie for Mel Gibson. All plot points in Seagulls In A Cherry Tree come from Chekhov’s plays (in particular The Cherry Orchard, Three Sisters, Uncle Vanya and The Seagull), plus a touch of invention, all of which have been rearranged and shaped in order to form a new Chekhov play. Winner of the Larry Corse Prize for Playwriting. “A smart, comical script… All you have to do is like to laugh” - The Orlando Sentinel

 

 

 

 

JEWISH SPORTS HEROES & TEXAS INTELLECTUALS

1st Place - Norfolk Southern Festival of New Works

(Full length - Comedy)

A comedy about a daughter who comes home to Texas to confront the dogma of her sexist-egotistical-cowboy-philosopher-father.  He divorced her mother years ago because he was having an affair with Ayn Rand.

 

 

 

 

 

INNOCENT THOUGHTS

Published by Next Stage Press

(Full length – Drama)

Arlen Weinberg, a Jewish anthropologist, is called to be an expert witness in a murder trial. The accused: a white police officer. His alleged crime: murdering a black man twenty years ago and burying the bones in the dirt floor beneath his brownstone. When Arlen arrives, he is shocked to discover that the defense lawyer is black. Ira Altridge is that black lawyer and he's not having a good day. His first expert witness has suddenly resigned from the case, giving him only one thin lunch hour to get his new anthropologist up to speed. Soon, the men discover they know each other, having both grown up in the same suburb of Chicago. Ira was a gang member who often preyed on Jewish boys and Arlen was the perfect target. Soon, their childhoods, cultures, and convictions come into conflict. Arlen's namby pamby liberalism drives Ira nuts, while Arlen begins to question if Ira's true purpose is to defend his white client. – 1st Place – National Playwrights Award

 

 

 

DEAD WHITE MALES

Published by Playscripts

(Full length - Comedy)

A dark comedy about a public school in Kansas. This  "Christopher Durang" type play concerns a young Jewish educator and her first year of teaching in a school that has been taken over by the religious right.  The play examines the politics of education, including political correctness, censorship, countless new mandates, school prayer, school shootings, and creative ways to avoid teaching evolution. Semi-Finalist at the Eugene O’Neill.

 

 

 

HEADSET: A View From The Light Booth

Published by Heuer Press

(Full length – Farce)

A comedy about the technical side of theatre. The entire play takes place in the Light Booth of the Chicago-Ensemble-Repertory-Group-Theatre-Project, on the final night of the Company’s questionable production of Hamlet. Everything that can go wrong does. The Los Angeles Times called it “A delightfully funny play."

 

 

 

A DOLL HOUSE

A New Adaptation

Published by Next Stage Press

(Full length – Drama)

By Henrik Ibsen

From A Literal Translation By Hans Lindstrom

Adapted by William Missouri Downs

 

 

 

 

Other Plays available on request: Little Family Secrets, The Scopes Monkey Trial,  My Laughing Years, The “M” Word, The Shelf Life of Sushi, Chasing Pirandello, Conversion Class, Bare Handed Catch & The Little Train That Could But Chose Not To.